Providence Healthcare (left), St. Michael's Hospital and St. Joseph's Health Centre Toronto will be known as Unity, while individual sites will retain their names.

Catholic hospital network newly named 'Unity Health Toronto'

  • December 20, 2018

One year into their merger, Toronto’s three Catholic hospitals have a name for their joint health care enterprise. Unity Health Toronto was selected from a list of at least 15 possible names.

The new name will not erase the historic names of St. Michael’s Hospital, Providence Healthcare and St. Joseph’s Health Centre Toronto. After a year operating under the interim name “Our Shared Purpose” the collective of the three hospital campuses will be known as Unity, while individual sites will retain their names.

The new name was revealed at a staff holiday event at St. Joe’s Dec. 12.

“Unity was chosen as it honours our faith-based values and is deeply rooted in the mission statement of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto,” said Unity-St. Michael’s spokesperson Michael Oliveira in an e-mail. “Unity Health Toronto also reflects the three organizations coming together in partnership.”

“My initial reaction to it is positive,” Ignyte Branding Agency founder Brian Lisher told The Catholic Register

If some people perceive the name as a little less specifically Catholic, that has to be balanced against a host of factors in a new organization taking on a new public image, said the San Francisco-based expert in health care branding.

“Health care organizations need to define who they are. They need to be aware of brand perceptions,” said Lisher. “There are going to be the naysayers. I just think that a lot of faith-based organizations that are trying to attract a general audience outside of that faith, they really need to think about these types of perceptions.”

Naming a healthcare institution the way you would name a church can carry negative and exclusive connotations, he said.

“People might not go there because they think that they’re not welcome,” he said.

The Sisters of St. Joseph are on board with the new name, which is drawn specifically from a one-sentence statement of the Sisters mission — “We have a mission of community, and a vision of unity” — said Sisters’ spokesperson Lisa Tabachnick.

Unity won out over other possibilities in the running, including Covenant, Fontebonne, Ascension, Mercy, Humanity, Harmony and Caritas.

“Consultations on the naming process took place over the past year with staff, physicians, students, volunteers, the board, our foundations, patients, residents, community stakeholders and our sponsor the Catholic Health Sponsors of Ontario,” said Oliveira. 

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